Thursday, June 22, 2006

CD REVIEW: Bartók/Lutoslawski

Here's a new review from Arkiv Music of PJ and the Cincinnati Symphony's well-received Bartók/Lutoslawski Concerto(s) for Orchestra.
Here are three winners from Telarc. Paavo Järvi and the excellent Cincinnati Symphony give superlative performances of Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra coupled with Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, the latter premiered in 1954, eleven years after Bartók's. In between these we have Lutoslawski's brief (1:29) Fanfare for Louisville written for Laurence Leighton Smith and the Louisville Orchestra in appreciation of their performances of the composer's music in 1985, a dazzling, brassy Bartókian interlude reminiscent of Miraculous Mandarin. The recordings were made May 1-2, 2005, and represent some of Telarc's finest sonics.

Telarc had received many requests for a surround sound version of their 1987 release Round-Up featuring Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops in a wide collection of music associated with the West including, of course, music for films. The original stereo release also included various appropriate sound effects. As explained in notes for the SACD release, Round-Up was not recorded in multi-channel sound, and the process to produce a surround sound version is explained stating the new release "features a completely new high resolution surround mix of the music, and sound effects plus a new stereo mix for both the stereo SACD and CD programs. The 5.l multi-channel and stereo programs benefit with greater detail, impact and harmonic content of both music and sound effects." And, indeed, audio quality on this new release is terrific. This is a terrific audio show-off SACD.

Great Film Fantasies is another sonic blockbuster, offering music by John Williams: ten excerpts from the Star Wars series, and four from the Harry Potter films, ending with four excerpts Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops have never played better, and Telarc's engineering is spectacular. These recordings were made September 9 and 13, 2005, produced by Robert Woods and engineered by Michael Bishop who also did the "surround" mix for Round-Up.

All three SACDs are highly recommended!

R.E.B. (June 2006)

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